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It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. That is the most laconic way I know to describe it. The best of times, made me a mother, and the worst of times, made me a better person. So I say that line with no ill will—31 is one for the record books, it tested me in a long list of ways. While I can’t say I passed with flying colors—that was not the point.

It was emotional leaving this one behind. (To date, that may be the understatement of a lifetime.) It was a full circle moment in so many ways. It ended, in the exact location where, 5 years ago, I decided to take a detour down this narrow, winding road, that you could barely make out read—less traveled. I made a split decision to leave life, as I knew it behind, at all costs. I decided that it wasn’t enough to have what everyone thinks they want: a nice house, nice cars, designer clothes, expensive jewelry, and plenty of Kodak moments. If it meant having none of those things, I wanted a life with gist. The sheer idea of be-ing, is so powerful, that for me, it HAS to have meaning. So this year took me back to that choice, literally and figuratively. This time, with the explanation of that pull in my life, in my arms. In the face of fire and brimstone, my son was born. His name says it all. Phoenix: a symbol of mankind’s indestructible spirit, a bird with the power to be born-again from ashes with a renewed spirit. I am not sure I needed to have him in my arms to believe in this concept, but perhaps I did. At the very least I can admit to needing a reminder, not only of this, but a few other core beliefs:

Truth. Standing in the sun as Olivia Pope would say. Not because I am a perfectionist with zero lies on the books, that would be a lie. But because when push comes to shove, the only thing that feels right —is right. Wrong and I will never get along, albeit the human in me.

Instinct. In a world that encourages you to do the opposite, I took a chance. I took a chance at being me. It’s not for everyone. There comes a lot of comfort with adhering to the status quo. Despite knowing that’s not where life begins, most will forego their personal zone for a comfort zone consolation. Mankind is evolved enough to know the pursuit of happiness is internal but unfortunately what you know is subservient to what you believe. That’s a battle we still have to conquer at large. In the interest of my personal desire, I made a series of choices leading to where I am today. To the world, that may be nowhere worth mentioning, but victory is mine. I do not live for the world. I live for the desire to reach the full potential of my life—which has nothing, absolutely nothing to do with a ring on my finger, square footage, a label in my possession, or virtual foot traffic through my profiles. All of me is all I have to offer. It makes me feel like the luckiest girl in the world to know that that is enough.

At this point in my life, it doesn’t matter how many carats are in my jewelry box. Charac-ter is where my interest lies. 31 showed me the power of resilience, truth, and instinct. And since pain was the price of my progress I have to say to my son—and the world if you care—I’d do it all again. No ifs/ands/buts.

32…I’m ready for you…let’s do this!